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tv   Countdown With Keith Olbermann  MSNBC  February 15, 2010 10:00pm-11:00pm EST

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okay, okay, we'll go, hint the republicans but already decided we're not going to be happy about it. our guest ezra klein. bye bayh. those who argued the gentleman from indiana was the wishy-washiest senator have to find another hero. >> i love working for the people from indiana. i love helping the citizens make the most of their lives but i don't love congress. worsts now chiding obama for revealing abdulmutallab were talking because we wouldn't want other terrorists to know somebody we captured was talking. >> we broke up two plots just two months ago. khalid sheik muhammad said the intended target was the library in congress. on presidents' day of founding fathers, lincoln and freedom, a special comment. a question for the tea partiers. where at your rallies are the black people? all the news and commentary now on "countdown."
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good evening from new york. what could be an intelligence breakthrough in the persian gulf. in late january the arrest of an al qaeda operative with access to such much information -- photos, phone numbers and documents it might enable intelligence officials to link al qaeda leaders in northwest pakistan to the terrorists in yemen. one saying, quote, these kinds of grabs are not all that common. word of this it obama administration terrorist success story breaking on the "newsweek" website over the weekend, the same in which an atypically defensive and rattled former vice president dick cheney again attacked president obama as being supposedly soft on terror. mr. cheney essentially accused much of the bush administration of being soft on terror, too. in an interview the former vice
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president renewing his assault on the current administration's mindset toward fighting al qaeda. >> it's the mindset that concerns me, john. i think it's very important to go back and keep in mind the distinction between handling these events as criminal acts, which is the way we did before 9/11, and then looking at 9/11 and saying this is not a criminal act, not when you destroy 16 acres of manhattan, kill 3,000 americans, blow a big hole in the pentagon. that's an act of war. and what the administration was slow to do was to come to that recognition that we are at war, not dealing with criminal acts. and as i say, my response there dealt specifically with the fact the president called it an isolationist extremist. it was not. >> most recently in how it dealt with the arrest of the christmas bomber abdulmutallab. >> proper way to deal with it would have been to treat him as an enemy combatant. i think that was the right way to go. the thing i learned from watching that process unfold,
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though, was the administration really wasn't equipped to deal with the aftermath of an attempted attack against the united states in the sense that they didn't know what to do with the guy. >> so was it a mistake, mr. vice president, when your administration took the shoe bomber richard reid and within five minutes of getting him off that plane read him his miranda rights? not only then, but four times in the first 48 hours he was held? >> well, first of all, i believe he was not tried. he pled guilty. they never did end up having a trial. secondly, when this came up, as i recall, it was december of '01 just a couple of months after 9/11. we were not yet operational with the military commissions. we hadn't had all the supreme court decisions handed down about what we could and couldn't do -- >> but you still had an option to put him in military custody. >> we could have put him in military custody. i don't question that. the point is in this particular case all of that was never worked out primarily because he
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pled guilty. >> in fact richard reid arrested at the end of it december it 2001 pleaded guilty in 2003, more than a year later. the administration having had more than enough time to pursue whatever route it wished to have chosen as it did with everything else. the current white house hitting back against cheney's lice deploying the current vice president joe biden to do concurrent interviews from vancouver where he's leading the u.s. delegation at the olympics. >> let me choose my words carefully here. dick cheney is a fine fellow. he's entitled to his own opinions. he's not entitled to rewrite history. he's not entitled to his own facts. the christmas day bomber was treated the exact way that he suggested that the shoe bomber was treated. absolutely the same way. i don't know where he has been. where was he the last four years of the last administration? >> where indeed? were it not for his secret undisclosed location it now appears that sitting vice president cheney could have spent much of his time publicly
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haranguing bush administration officials. when confronted with a bush era document which praised civilian courts as an effective weapon against terror, a document proving many bush officials endorsed the current obama approach, mr. cheney acknowledging there was a difference of opinion within the bush administration. >> they're not doing it all that differently from how you were doing it. >> we didn't all agree with that. we had i can remember a meeting in the roosevelt room in the west wing of the white house where we had a major shoot-out over how this was going to be handled between the justice department that advocated that approach and many of the rest of us who wanted to treat it as an intelligence matter, as an act of war with military commissions. we never thoroughly or totally resolved those issues. these are tough questions, no doubt about it. >> well, mr. cheney knows his major shoot-outs no doubt about it as his friend harry wittington. the former vice president on the wrong end of the bird shot when in response to a question
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whether the christmas bomber should be water boarded he basically admitted to being a war criminal. >> i won some. i lost some. >> and waterboarding clearly -- >> i was a big supporter of waterboarding. i was a big sporter of the enhanced interrogation techniques. >> and you opposed the administration's actions of doing away of the water board sng. >> yes. >> then the war of choice for profit that mr. cheney and the neocons lied their way into. the former vice president and halliburton's latest ceo's latest lie that the conflict began with the surge and the 4,376 american lives we have spent to help line the pockets of cheney and his cronies has been worth the cost. >> if they had had their way, if we had followed the policies they pursued from the outset or advocated from the outset, saddam hussein would still northbound power in baghdad today. so if they're going to take credit for it, fair enough, for what they've done while they're there. but it ought to go with a healthy dose of thank you,
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george bush, up front and recognition that some of their early recommendations with reflect to prosecuting that war were dead wrong. >> call in msnbc political analyst lawrence o'donnell and contributor to the huffington post joining us from los angeles. lawrence, good evening. >> good to be here, keith. >> this has been treated over the last 24 hours largely as cheney again attacks obama. wasn't the real headline in there that waterboarding admission, i was a big supporter of waterboarding? >> it was really quite striking and underplayed because of the way he treated it so routinely and just made it seem like something that's perfectly reasonable, perfectly reasonable position to take, perfectly reasonable admission to make at this point in the story. i think one of the overall impression of the interview so far, if you listen to george will and the comment across the political spectrum from the most
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reasonable of those commentators, is that cheney demonstrated that everything he's criticizing president obama for is an extension of policy that already existed in the cheney white house and that these were lost battles within the cheney white house. that he lost the battles there and wants to continue to fight them against the obama/biden white house. >> citing this idea that he expanded this backwards a little bit to reveal the unfortunately phrased shoot-out in the white house between himself and unnamed others, am i wrong about the tone that -- whatever else he lacks -- and i would say he lacks a grasp of reality -- mr. cheney has never lacked certitude. did this seem a little more defensive than the previous explosions on the subject? >> well, i think when he's in adult company outside of fox news, he actually has to adopt a different style. and i think he knows that. an think he knows when that panel is going to follow him as they did on abc news and analyze
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everything he has to say. he has to stay a little bit closer to the base, a little closer to reality. i think that's what you were seeing, a little built a defensive crouch about what is george will going to say. george will by the way had nothing approving to say about the vice president in the discussion afterwards. so i think because of that setting, it changes the nature of his rhetoric. >> how much of that rhetoric was intended to mitigate the recent successes of the obama administration in what the cheney/bush white house called the war on terror, particularly i presume with his ear to the ground and so many thousands of sources feeding him information -- and we've seen some evidence that that continued after he left the white house -- that he probably had some idea about this courier on his way to yemen with the al qaeda rolodex that they rolled up last month. >> and even without that, all you have to do is keep an eye on your newspaper for the heavy kill count that's going on from the drone program that president obama has targeted toward al
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qaeda. and so, yeah, it was aimed at so many things, keith. remember he is fundamentally a book-seller at this point. he's got to keep the market ready for his book which he declared on the show will be ready a year from now. and he'll want to come back on that same show to sell the book a year from now. he can't let that book become a stale commodity a year from now. so he's going to continue to keep the flames going, the marketing flames going on that. and then he does have history he's contending with. he knows what's on the record. he knows what's going to be revealed long term as more and more documents become unclassified over time. and he knows that he's going to have to be the voice on the record of these news transcripts defending what you find out about him on the record of his own white house. >> what's he going to call this book? because i was thinking maybe a healthy dose of thank you, george bush, would probably no longer po work despite his lip service there about iraq. he does seem to have separated
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himself from the second administration, from bush's second term. is he just -- i just have this sense that he's cutting himself a smaller and smaller piece of that corner that he painted himself into quite a while ago. >> yes, he is. and he's looking in that corner for the encouragement of the neocons, who never counted george w. bush among them. they considered george w. bush their tool. cheney was their leader, in effect. and he is trying to maintain the support of that corner of republicanism. and he is doing at least that with these public comments of his. >> but what happens -- and obviously the white house was prepared for this and welcomed it, bringing mr. biden out for two interviews. but "the washington post" polling that was released last week that shows essentially the strongest core issue for barack obama is his handling of terrorism, counter terrorism work. 56% way over economy and health
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care. what has become of the overall meme that dick cheney is kind of the -- he's actually -- his face is in the trademark that goes next to the statement, republicans handled terrorism better than democrats do. instead of t.m., it says dick cheney's face in it. >> i think the theme actually starts back with tough on communism. it starts back with joe mccarthy. republican senator joe mccarthy who tried to demonize democrats and others as soft on communism. exactly the same theme and sound are used to try to demonize democrats and demonize barack obama as being soft on terrorism. the public isn't buying it. the man delivering this message, dick cheney, is one of the least popular politicians alive in america today. and so he just isn't getting the headway where he wants it, which is that independent voter, that swing voter. the hard core right wing
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republican is with dick cheney on all these issues but it's not a group that can win elections. >> i think it started with tough on anarchists. this is a mckinley dodge if i remember correctly. at least 120 years old. just change the name. then it was anarchists, reds, fascists obviously, then it was germans, chinese. you fill in the blank and it's always been a group often within the country. lawrence o'donnell of msnbc and the huffington post. class is dismissed. we'll gather again on tuesday. thank you. >> thanks, keith. the health care reform summit is a week from thursday. there's evidence tonight the white house is expecting a compromise between the house and senate versions in time to post online in advance. ezra klein on that. his own story. and a presidents' day special comment on the tea parties and racism. ( whistling )
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we're going to table the latest nightly comments for a special comment tonight and a plea to the tea partiers to
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explain their homogeneity. ezra klein on the breaks news on an apparent compromise in the health care reform bill. huh? ♪ where do gummy bears hide? under the seat. look! yeah! [ telephone rings ] [ male announcer ] the all new chevy equinox. [ man ] guess who? dad! [ man ] enjoy the trip! okay, daddy! [ laughter ] [ male announcer ] a consumer's digest best buy. with up to 600 highway miles on a tank of gas. it takes you farther and brings you closer. that's a lot of people. i've collected a few postcards of all the places that at&t has coverage... spokane, washington; boston, mass. san francisco, tulsa, oklahoma... dated a girl from there. warren, michigan... didn't work out. bozeman, montana; daytona beach, florida; madison, wisconsin... good college town. i think we get the picture. [ male announcer ] if you want coverage, we've got it. at&t. buy any smartphone after mail-in rebate and get any messaging phone free after mail-in rebate.
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scott brown of massachusetts killed the health care bills passed by both the house and the senate? as dr. frankenstein said, it's alive. ezra klein of "the washington post" who joins us frently reporting that a thorough read of the invitation of the february 25th health care summit led to a conclusion that the democratic health care plan mr. obama will bring to the event will be a compromise version of the house and senate bills. the newspaper roll call reporting the republicans are likely to attend now though
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house republican leader john boehner say democrats should come to the meeting with no plan. the health care news coming on the heels of two reports about white house strategy changes on both message and substance. "the washington post" reporting that white house advisers analyzed their first year and concluded they need to step up their messaging. this as "the new york times" says mr. obama is prepared to take unilateral action on several fronts using tools like executive directives and regulatory changes giving the president broad latitude to act without legislative direction. campaigned it against the overreach of the bush administration and balance of power with congress but white house director dan pfeifer says after relentless debates it was clear too often we didn't have the bill. congress had the ball in terms of driving the message. in 2010 the president will constantly be doing high profile things to be the person driving the narrative. such as instead of talking in front of guys with suits leaving washington once a week for real
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people type events. vice president biden's dual appearances as a pushback against p vice president dick cheney. on the substance "the times" reports the administration is going solo on several domestic policy fronts. according to white house chief of staff rahm emanuel we're reviewing a list of presidential orders and directives to get the job done. time to bring in ezra klein, who gets the job done on economic and domestic policy for the "washington post." ezra, good evening. >> good evening. >> so about this compromise, this is essentially a deduction and any deduction as to what is in the compromise if there is indeed one? >> it wasn't much of a deduction. it was just written that way in an e-mail to me. i figure it's solid information. what i think we need to remember here is that there was a compromise that existed pretty much before scott brown was elected. house and senate negotiators had been meeting in a room. there was a very long like an eight-hour meeting that barack obama attended most of along with pelosi reid and others and
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built out the bill they were going to bring to the two chambers and passed. my sense is that pretty much something looking very much like that is going to get dusted off and brought to the summit that's coming up in a couple of weeks which is why you hear republicans demanding democrats offer a pledge that they will not reach a deal on their own before the summit. >> but does it matter in fact what's in there or how close that is to that pre-brown compromise or indeed whether or not the president is resurrecting the whole topic of health care reform to begin with if he lacks the votes to pass it or has to water it down ir redeemably in order to pass it? >> i don't think they know if they lack the votes to pass it. i think everybody is playing high stakes poker. they're hoping when the summit ends on the republican side there won't be the votes and the white house hoping they will have given democrats the courage or at least enough of a pivot to do the thing most democrats know is in their own political self interest and pass the bill. i think there's a real dawning sense -- if it's not already dawned -- for these folks to go
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into november with nothing to show for it is going to be a catastrophe. they don't know how to get from being afraid to vote for the bill and knowing they need to vote for it to vote it. >> should progressives be glad about this new white house communications offensive or should they be disheartened that the white house seems to think its problem is essentially one of image rather than essentially one of substance? >> i think that part of the issue here is -- the image one is the main one the white house can try to fix. i think progressives should not take their eye off the ball here. the power lies as it always has in congress and the senate. we do have this problem of having a very presidential focused politics. we talk about obama all the time on this show and write about him all the time in the newspaper but at the end of the day it's the folks behind me on capitol hill that have pretty much all the power. every time the president walks into the issues they become more not less polarized. there isn't a message he can offer that will make the republicans want to hand him an
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accomplishment. which is why i think you see a new recognition on the part of many democratic senators and hopefully some republicans that if anybody is ever going to govern this country again the filibuster has to be substantially ratcheted back. >> i guess this includes something about that point. the quote from mr. pfeiffer that congress had had the ball too often. weren't congressman wiener and others screaming for the white house to take the lead particularly on health care reform? is it possible that despite the power that is in fact contained as you point out in the building behind you that maybe as veterans of it mr. obama and mr. emanuel might be a little bit too respectful of what goes on there? how is it not letting congress not have the ball again if it's a congressional health care bill that they're going to debate rather than a white house one? >> congress has the ball. the question is how well you can run a fake. i spoke to a lot of those offices including some of the ones you just mentioned. and i would always include in my questions around that time be very specific. what do you want barack obama to
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do. and it would get very vague. that isn't to say the president hasn't done a very good job selling this bill. they clearly retreated. whether or not there was a better way to do it they got associated with the inside game here. at the end of the day it is up to congressional democrats to pass this legislation. and when they don't it is on them. and i do think there is an element of political dodge when what they say the white house didn't lead sufficiently. we don't have a system built for us only to be able to solve problems when the white house is strategically perfect. our presidents are going to fail us and our legislature is going to have to do its job. >> ezra klein of "the washington post." great thanks and good luck to the legislature you describe. david corn on saying bye to evan. and a presidents' day special comment. like our award-winning cc. white one! [ chuckles ] or the fuel-efficient jetta. ooh! red one! [ sighs ] or the tiguan. black one! oh. two for flinching. plus, every volkswagen includes no-charge, scheduled, care-free maintenance. silver one!
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evan bayh leaves up to his name. first five years ago today youtube was launched. 30 seconds later the first video was removed for copyright infrinchment. we kid because we care baugh because without the video from youtube we'd show you cartoons every night. let's play "oddball." to greece and this is not some fraternity hazing scheme gone mad. it is the yearly flour war. rival teams in this coastal team fire flour bombs at each other brought by the p king biscuit flour hour. 1300 pounds of this stuff. it's a celebration of clean monday, the first day of
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orthodox lent in it greece. supposedly originated in 1801 when residents defied ottoman rulers by celebrating with a forbidden carnival. to nevada perfect place to break a record for physical human contact with multiple partners. safely clothed. john ondash setting an -- ondash as in on dasher, on prancer. setting a record for giving and getting the most hugs in 24 hours. began friday night outside the paris casino. 7,777 hugs beating the previous record by 5,000 but nowhere near the number of vegas marriages. mr. ondash was raising money for the american heart association. his record could easily be challenged by my niece eve. from hugs to kissing at good-bye. did evan bayh just leave the democrats in the lurch or did his timing bury the republicans? indiana may or may not want him. but he won't go back there.
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most everyone including his fellow democrats by surprise senator evan bayh announced he would not seek re-election. creating the next surprise even in a tough year for the majority party retirements are still greater among republicans. the third surprise bayh's timing might actually limit the choices for the gop in that race. the indiana senator today saying he will not seek a third term. former two-term governor cited his disillusionment with congress. >> for some time i've had a growing conviction that congress is not operating as it should. there is much too much partisanship and not enough progress, too much narrow ideology and not enough practical problem solving. two weeks ago the senate voted down a bipartisan commission to deal with one of the most threats to our nation. the exploding debt. it would have passed. but seven members who co-sponsored the legislation instead voted no for short-term
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political reasons. i love working for the people of indiana. i love helping our citizens make the most of their lives. but i do not love congress. >> those seven members to which senator bayh alluded there all republicans. the senator reportedly talked to president obama this morning about the decision but did not call the majority leader harry reid until after the news had broken this morning of an impending announcement. no indication he was running scared. recent polls well ahead 20 points of his likely republican chamber. democrats have until tomorrow to collect 4500 signatures to get on a primary ballot. if no one makes that deadline then the state central committee picks the if democratic nominee and has until june to do so bypassing a primary altogether. but gop candidates are expected to meet tomorrow's pe digs deadline meaning that their choices could be locked in within 24 hours according to analysis by the "daily kos." as for the retirement scoreboard
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three senate democrats announced retirement. bayh of connecticut, dorgan of north dakota. the gop announced five senate retirements adding the open seats of former senators obama and biden whose replacements are not running. that brings to five the number of open senate seats from the dems and six for the gop. in the house there will be 13 open seats now held by democrats but 18 now held by republicans. meantime, the far right challenger to republicans, senator john mccain has made it official. former congressman and current radio talk show host and one-time sportscaster j.d. hayworth announcing today he will challenge mccain in the republican primary. quoting hayworth what i'm hearing from people is they want a consistent conservative when it comes to the u.s. senate. he's been there too long. you have to ask what has he done in the last decade for arizona. turn to politics for david corn. >> happy presidents' day. >> and to you, sir. start with senator bayh.
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one unnamed source said that he hates the senate and he hates the left bloggers. is this a man who long time ago made a bad career choice or did somebody just give him the gift of the internet or what happened here? >> you have to wonder what he's been doing the last six months or six years. did he just wake up and realize the senate is not working that well and that liberal bloggers, oh, my god -- don't like this that much. i never thought evan bayh would be made of weaker stuff than, say, joe lieberman. i mean, he seems to have been dwelling upon this for a long time. but really it's not as if anything has changed dramatically within the senate in the last six months or even the last year or two. >> maybe there's a laser beam at hand that the left wing bloggers do not understand. if only it could be focused in some way, we could just clear out the entire senate and most of the house, too. >> use that power for good. >> well, all right. the quick conventional thinking on this is that unless bayh gave
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somebody in the democratic party heads up and nobody knows about this he really didn't do anything to help his party retain the seat or, in fact, was his timing relative to those petition deadlines actually, whether intended or not, a big favor? >> he raised millions of dollars as if he were going to run again. then he sort of cut short that process. and it's true that the democratic central committee of the state has until june to decide. but, i mean, it seems to me that he should be getting a john edwards memorial t-shirt that reads "it's all about me." this is a decision he could have made months ago. more time would have helped basically anyone on the democratic side of anybody who the dscc -- the democratic senatorial campaign committee might have wanted to recruit for this position. leaving a short amount of time is usually not a good thing for prospective candidates who need to raise big bucks to get things going. >> let's move to arizona in a moment here. but i want that big picture
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first. we've been hearing a drum beat of dire warnings about the midterm elections relative particularly to democratic incumbents. with what about that do you agree? and what makes it particularly volatile and unpredictable? and why when these stories get covered do all the democratic openings get mentioned and the republicans not? >> well, i think it's a wild card year. i don't think it's an ideological shift on the part of the public but if you have ten or some estimation 17% unemployment for nearly a year, voters are going to be ticked off. they look at washington and they see t.a.r.p., the jobs bill and health refoorm. it looks like a holy mess. they're disappointed, discouraged. they're mad to. they want to -- a lot of them i think want to lash out. there are more elected officials with d's after their names than r's so any incumbent has to be
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running scared if you have a volatile public that has sort of lost faith with the government. early on in the show you showed a quote from dan pfeiffer, the communications director of the white house, who says barack obama has to regain control of the narrative. right now i don't think there's anyone in charge on the republican or democratic side who has control of the narrative on health care reform or any of the other issues on jobs. it's certainly not harry reid or the republican leaders in congress. that said, it's kind of -- everybody has sort of crosshairs on their back. and i think that all politicians are going to be running scared for the next -- what is it, nine months. >> is the guy in charge of the narrative actually j.d. hayworth, for god's sake? >> he's creating a pretty good narrative of his own or inheriting one down in arizona. part of the volatility is you have a lot of restlessness on the right. this doesn't i think reflect the whole population. but there are concerns out there who believe the republican party is practically useless and their
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number one target for this is going to be john mccain, the guy who gave them sarah palin, their biggest conservative prize of years is now the person conservatives are gunning for. talk about gratitude. >> what have you done for me lately? david corn of mother jones. a special comment on presidents' day. a question for the tea party. where are all of your minority members? worst persons visited by one of the all-time greats. dan quayle for the classic malla prop cluster. rachel introduces an illinois congressman to the concept of shock and au crap. if representative shock thought she gave him a hard time on "meet the press" wait until he in test after test,
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a special comment on presidents' day of washington and lincoln and racism and tea parties. that's next. first tonight's worst persons in the world. bronze to former vice president dan quayle back from obscurity to give us one of those how many things are wrong in this picture quotes in which he defends the filibust filibuster. he opposes a reconciliation bill on health care because, quote -- 51 votes in the house. also know that founding fathers did not have 51 votes in mind
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for the senate or the house because the original senate only had 26 senators and the original house only had 65 congressmen. most importantly the last time republicans controlled the senate they used reconciliation to pass major nation-changing bills with only 51 votes at least four times. where were you then, dan, growing potatoes with an "e." joshua vaz questions arrested in california's city of commerce on friday. he is an alleged scratchiny artists, eches glass rather than spray paints. a beautiful glass door in the aquatic center. he scratched it up. it was then he learned it might have been dark on his side of the door but not the other one where his alleged vandalism was seen by people taking a training class. 100 los angeles county sheriff's deputies who had just gotten to the topic of having back-up while conducting pursuits on foot. one of the deputies, followed by 39 back-up officers, promptly burst through the door and arrested mr. vazquez.
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our winner dick morris of fix news. kind of liked the vazquez story. a new mind bending criticism of the obama terror policy. as usual, when you want the dumb, you ask dick. that would be why the fbi boasted about capturing khalid shaikh mohammed? that would be why john ashcroft boasted by satellite from russia about the arrest of jose padilla. why bush boasted about the attack he interrupted in l.a.
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that's why his administration gave out every single detail of every knickle dime wannabe. so they could crow about how effective george bush was when fighting al qaeda? so they could provide al qaeda a timely warning? that's a startly charge to make against the bush administration. you're basically accusing president bush of treason. dick george w. bush helped al qaeda morris, today's worst person in the world. ♪
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finally tonight as promised a special comment on this
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presidents' day celebrating george washington and the founding fathers he represents and abraham lincoln and the emancipation he represents. and i think having now been one for 51 years i am permitted to say i believe prejudice and discrimination still sit defeated dormant or vir lanlt somewhere in the soul of each white man. 63 years after jackie robinson and 56 a brown v. board of education and a year and a half after the presidential election this is not a popular thing to be say or something that should be true. but it is. discrimination is still all around us in so many ways. openly redirected towards immigrants who are doing nothing more than following the path that brought my recent an cress tors here and probably yours too. are focused on gays predicated on a mum bow jumbo of biblical m misinterpretations or leaching out still against if black people in things like the tea party movement. i think the progress we've made in the last 60 years has been
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measurable and good but i think discrimination has been tamed perhaps, not eradicated. for our society still emphasizes our differences as much as our similarities. we may be 63 years from jackie robinson but not yet 63 days from a man going on national radio and telling us the president of the united states was elected only because of the color of his skin. discrimination i've always thought of as a perversion 6 some of the most necessary instincts as survival. as a child put your hand on a hot stove and you learn to discriminate against red hot stoves but at that age you're told you need to beware of say black people you will spend your life having to fight against wiring created in your brain for no reason other than to reflect someone else's prejudice. and it need not even be that related to trauma. the other night in the hospital my father was o telling me about seeing satchel paige pitch at yankees stadium in 1941 and the team was the new york black yankees. my father shook his head in
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amazement as he told me this. it never occurred to me, he said, never occurred to anybody i knew that he couldn't play for the other yankees, my dad said. we just assumed he didn't want to, that none of them wanted to. these thoughts still linger in our lives. still actively passed to some of us by people who are not like my father who never questioned their own upbringing or parents or school or world. that older, brutal, prejudiced with impunity world which reappears somewhere every day like brigadoon. sometimes with virulence as in don imus's remarks something times with utter arrogance tone-deafness as in john mayer's "playboy" uniform or a benign prays like harry reid's about dialect. times with the lung-headedness of surprise that nobody described m-f'er i want more iceded tea at a restaurant. the reverse feeling still exists too with the same doubt and
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nagging distrust only with the arrow pointing the opposite way and i guess still there among hispanics andations and every self identifying group because this country since the civil war has not only become ever increasingly great not merely for dismantling the racism of our first 24u7b years on this continent but because we've been dismantling a million years of not trusting the guys in the next cave because they are somehow different. this all still lingers about us, all of us, whether we see it or not. and since it's no longer fashionable, indeed no longer acceptable, it oozes out around the edges and usually those who speak it don't even realize that as good as their intention might be, as improved their attitudes might be from where they used to be or their parents or grandparents used to be or where america used to be, it's still racism. thus, it has become fashionable sometimes psychologically necessary when some of us express it we have to put it in code or dress it up or provide a rationalization to ourselves for
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it. that this has nothing to do with race or prejudice. the man's a socialist and he's bent on destroying the country and he was only elected by people who can't speak english. or was it he was only elected by guilty whites? the rationalizations of the racists are too many and too contradictory for the rest of us to keep them straight. the whole of the anger at government movement is predicated on this. times are tough. the future is confusing. the threat from those who would dismantle our way of life is real if we weren't to some extent doing it for them now. and the president is black. but you can't come out and say that's why you're scared. say that and in all but the lifeless fringes of our society you are an outcast. and so this is where the euphemisms come in. your taxes haven't gone up, the budget deficit is from the last administration's adventurous war. grandma is much more likely to be death paneled by your insurance company. and a socialist president would be one that tried to buy as many voters as possible with stupid tax cuts.
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but facts don't matter when you're looking for an excuse to say you hate this president. but not because he's black. anything you can say out loud without your family and friends bursting into laughter at you will do. and this is where those tea parties come in. i know i've taken a lot of heat for emphasizing a particular phrase which originated at free rally earlier this month originated with a tea partier. i know phrases like tea klux klan are incendiary and i use them because it's i'm so angry we have to backdate that racial uneasiness which envelopes us all. i know if i could only listen to lincoln about the better angels of our nature i would know what we're seeing at the tea parties is at its base people who are afraid, terribly, crippling blindingly afraid. let me ask all of you who attend these things how many black faces do you see at these events? how many hispanics?
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asians, gays? where are these people? surely there must be blacks who think they're being bled by taxation. surely there must be hispanics who think the government should let the auto industry fail. surely there must be people of all color and creeds who believe in cultural literacy tests and speaking english. where are they? where are they? do you suppose they agree with you, that they've just chosen to attend their own separate meetings that they're not at your tea party because they have a tea party of their own to go to? are you thinking like my father did about satchel paige and the black yankees that they want this? my father had an excuse for that. he was 12 years old. it was 1941. are you of the tea party 12 years old? for you is it 1941? you're scared and in a world that's changed in a million ways and the most obvious is something unforable not a year ago a black president and
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installed by generations who knew only fear and brutality and prejudice and difference and suspicion. the generations have gone but the suspicion lingers on. not all of our heritage is honorable. not all the decisions of the founding fathers were noble. not many founding fathers were evolved enough to believe that black people were actually people. the founding fathers thought they were and fought hard to make sure they would always remain slaves. fear is a terrible thing. so is prejudice. so is racism. and progress toward the removal of any evil produces an inevitable backlash. the civil war was not followed by deseg dpation but jim crow and the klan. george wallace and anti-bussing overt racism. why should the election of a black president be without a backlash? but recognize what this backlash is and maybe you can free yourself of this movement built of inherited fears and echoes of
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1963 or 1973. look who is leading you and why and the blustery self-justifications and see the fear, this unspoken, unnecessary fear of those who are different. do you believe there is merit to your political argument, fine. but ask yourself when you next go to a tea party rally or watch one on television or listen to a politician or commentator praise them or merely treat them if it is just a coincidence that they are virtually segregated. ask yourself where are the black faces? who am i marching with? what are we afraid of? and if it really is only a president's policy and not his skin, ask yourself one final question. why are you surrounded by the largest crowd you will ever again see in your life that consists of nothing but people who look exactly like you. good night and good luck.
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and now here is my very dear friend rachel maddow. good evening, rachel. >> thank you and happy presidents to you -- happy presidents' day to you. evan bayh called it a career in the u.s. senate but it's not entirely clear how bad a thing that is for the democratic party, common wisdom notwithstanding. our filibuster challenge among the top zillion things on the internet this weekend. we got some very, very, very good submissions already. and joe the plumber of all people joijs the chorus of 2008 presidential runner-up campaign casualties with nothing nice to say about the man who made him famous. that's all coming up. but we begin with the republican party refusing to take yes for an answer. after months of demanding that president obama open up the health reform talks, invite the republicans in, make it bipartisan, republicans have gotten what they wanted. they've been invited to the white house for a bipartisan health summit next week. and it turns out they are super


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